Norwich face play-off after clinching Alliance title

Norwich are one win away from a return to the East Anglian Premier League after a thrilling final day in the top flight of the Norfolk Alliance.

They beat fellow title challengers Sprowston by 19 runs at Postwick on Saturday to ensure they finished seven points ahead of Downham Town, who comfortably beat Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers in their last match.

Norwich now face a home play-off showdown with Wisbech this Saturday, with the winners of that one taking their place among the region's elite next season.

After Norwich won the toss and chose to bat at the weekend they struggled to 83-5 after 26 overs before Chris Borrett and Chris Sutton put on 67 for the sixth wicket in 14 overs. Jason Blake hit 21 late on to get Norwich to 188, with Andy Hanby collecting five wickets and Simon Chipperfield four.

In reply Sprowston got off to a flyer, reaching 59-0 from 11 overs as Rob Purton and Jon Leverett took kindly to the pace on the ball. However, the introduction of Frankie Sutton changed the game as he took four wickets in his first four overs.

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His fine spell continued as he took seven for 19 from 13 overs to reduce Sprowston to 92-8. But resistance was shown by Sam Hales and the supporting Hanby as the ninth wicket pair put on 36, before Hanby was run out by Borrett.

Matt Evans came in at 11 and with 61 needed in 10 overs he helped put on 41 in the company of Hales before being bowled for 18 by Dominic Matarazzo with three overs remaining. Hales was left stranded on 62 from 70 balls.

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Going into the final day needing to win, while hoping Norwich slipped up, to win the title, Downham at least kept their side of the bargain by recording a five-wicket victory over Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers that condemned their opponents to relegation.

Downham dismissed Wanderers, who have been in good form of late, for just 105 before knocking off the required runs for the loss of five wickets. The result confirmed safety for North Runcton and Cromer, even though both teams lost on Saturday, to Diss and Old Buckenham respectively.

Wisbech set up their clash with Norwich by beating Frinton by eight runs in Essex yesterday. They made 213 for five in their 50 overs before dismissing the hosts for 205.

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